Finding a board game that you can play with your 3-year-old – and I mean really play – is a kind of quest. Something not too challenging or too shallow, that doesn’t require reading, that engages the child’s interest, and the interest of anyone who wants to play with a three-year-old – well, like I said, it’s a quest.
Briarpatch‘s Thomas Mix ‘n Match Bingo may not tax the conceptual mettle of your average 30-something, but if you’re playing with your children, it will more than likely prove to be actual, engaging fun for all – especially if your child follows the Thomas the Tank Engine™ books or videos or TV shows.
Mix ‘n Match Bingo goes significantly beyond your basic bingo that you can play on sites like https://www.boomtownbingo.com/. There are three dice. Each die represents a different attribute: the kind of train, the background color, and the border. When combined, these three attributes form a picture that your child must find on her Bingo board. The six game boards (folding, colorful, large enough so all the illustrations and attributes are easy to see) are each designed like a tic tac toe grid, with 9 different images. Bingo markers come in 6 different colors, and are made of pleasingly thick, high gloss chipboard.
The designers include a cooperative version using only one board (for younger children: 3+), a more competitive version in which players can match the images on any of the boards in use – winning as soon as they create a BINGO on any board (three of their own markers in a row). Then there’s Super Mix and Match. All six boards are assembled into one big game board, and the winner of the game is the first to place all her chips on the board
Each of the three variations proves to be most playworthy. Coming up with a cooperative version for 3-year-olds is at least brilliant – one of the few children’s games we’ve reviewed that acknowledges the nigh-impossibility of explaining to a tearful three year old that it’s “only a game.” The more complex versions add elements of competition and complexity to a cognitively rich task of matching three different attributes.
All in all, Thomas Mix ‘n Match Bingo Games is fun enough, even for a three-year-old, to make most 30- and 40-somethings want to play it again, and again.